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Full text of "My Country And My People"

104          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

An educated man should, above all, be a reasonable being, who
is always characterized by his common sense, his love of moder-
ation and restraint, and his hatred of abstract theories and
logical extremes. Common sense is possessed by all common
people. The academic scholar is in constant danger of losing
this common sense. He is apt to indulge in excesses of theory;
the reasonable man, or the Chinese man of culture, should
avoid all excesses of theory and conduct. You have, for
instance, the historian Froude saying that the divorce of
Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon was for purely political
reasons, and you have Bishop Creighton claiming, on the other
hand, that it was entirely dictated by animal lust,1 whereas
the common-sense attitude should be that both considerations
were effective., which is probably nearer the truth. In the
West one scientist is infatuated by the idea of heredity and
another is obsessed by the notion of environment, and each one
goes about doggedly to prove his theory with great learning
and stupidity, whereas the Oriental, without much cerebration,
would allow something for both. A typically Chinese judgment
is: "-4 is right, and B is not wrong either."

Such self-sufficiency is sometimes infuriating to a logical
mind, but what of it? The reasonable mind keeps a balance
when the logical mind has lost it. The idea that a Chinese
painter could, like Picasso, take the perfectly logical remark
that the world of objects could be reduced to cones, planes and
angular lines and then proceed logically to carry that theory
into painting is obviously impossible in China. We have a
natural distrust of arguments that are too perfect and theories
that are too logical. Against such logical freaks of theories,
common sense is the best and most effective antidote. Bertrand
Russell has acutely pointed out that "In art, they [the Chinese]
aim at being exquisite, and in life at being reasonable."
. The result of this worship of common sense is therefore a
dislike of all extravagances of theory in thought and all excesses
of conduct in morals. The natural consequence of this is the
Doctrine of the Golden Mean, which is really the same as the
"nothing too much" ideal of the Greeks. The Chinese word for

* See the extremely illuminating little book, The Magic of Common Sense, by
George Frederick Wates (John Murray, London).